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Rockland Fundraiser For DeSantis Moved to Undisclosed Venue, Possibly to Evade Protesters

In a surprising turn of events, the campaign fundraiser featuring Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, scheduled to take place at a hotel in Rockland County, was abruptly canceled on Thursday. The event organizers apparently shifted the location to an undisclosed venue, leading to speculation that the change was intended to avoid potential protesters.

Confirmation of the venue change came from a manager at the Crowne Plaza hotel near Suffern, who revealed that the dinner Governor DeSantis was slated to attend that evening would no longer be held at their establishment. However, the manager had no information regarding the new location of the event.

The uncertainty surrounding the plans emerged a day earlier when Schenley Vital, the Rockland County Democratic Chairman involved in organizing a protest against DeSantis outside the Crowne Plaza, disclosed that the police security detail assigned to the event had been withdrawn. This sudden development strongly suggested that the private fundraiser would no longer be held at the hotel, resulting in the cancellation of the planned protest.

According to an invitation obtained by the USA Today Network, the exclusive fundraising dinner, limited to invited guests only, was set to commence with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by a dinner at 6 p.m. The event was billed as an “exclusive evening” with Governor DeSantis and prominent business leaders, with each guest required to contribute $6,600.

Interestingly, the dinner coincided with another private fundraiser in New York that DeSantis was scheduled to attend—a luncheon hosted by Wall Street executives at the Yale Club in Manhattan, earlier in the day.

The host and organizer of the canceled Rockland dinner was identified as Seth Gribetz, an investor from Englewood, New Jersey. Gribetz had previously expressed hopes of raising $500,000 for DeSantis through the event. The Suffern hotel had been chosen as the venue due to its proximity to DeSantis’ supporters, colleagues, and friends in Rockland, northern New Jersey, and Manhattan.

However, on Wednesday, the status of the fundraiser became enveloped in secrecy. Gribetz failed to respond to emails and a phone message, while Captain Daniel Hyman, a spokesperson for the Ramapo police, declined to comment on the canceled security detail. The DeSantis campaign also refrained from discussing the event, stating that they cannot provide information on private functions.

A coalition comprising LGBTQ advocacy groups and Democratic organizations from New York City and Rockland had organized a protest outside the hotel, aiming to denounce DeSantis for his policies as governor. The Republican candidate has faced criticism from the LGBTQ community for implementing conservative laws regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

Following news of the venue change, organizers of the “Get Gone Ron” demonstration celebrated, viewing it as an acknowledgment by DeSantis that his “hateful and divisive politics” were unwelcome in Rockland County. A statement issued by the organizers expressed their condemnation of DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies, emphasizing the importance of fostering diversity and inclusivity.

Additionally, the DeSantis campaign’s failure to inform Rockland’s Republican leader and local Republican elected officials about the fundraiser further irked the county’s GOP representatives.

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